Christian Living


Valentine's Day: Take Notice

We’re getting our hearts in shape for Valentine's Day! Our next “shape up strategy” is to wake up and take notice of the qualities that makes your spouse uniquely special.

Some years back, my husband asked me to sell our dream home so we could get our finances in order and prepare for his retirement. My initial reaction was Absolutely Not!  And I held on firmly and tightly to my response, unwilling to even consider selling our beautiful home. This went on for months.

One day I was out on a walk pouring my heart out to the Lord telling him how unfair I felt the situation was, and it was during that time of prayer that I began to gain God’s perspective on my husband. It was as if the Lord gently took me by the chin and put my focus on all my husband’s wonderful qualities and sacrificial love for me. And what did I see? I saw all Jeff had done for me over the years. I saw that even though he had already had two grown children by the time we had married, he consented to let me have a baby… and then seven years later, another baby. I saw how hard he had worked for our family. I saw all the times he had done the little things, like filling my car with gas, and checking the oil before I went on a trip. I saw his many good qualities and how loving he was to me and the kids. And all of a sudden, selling our dream home didn’t seem like such a high price to pay.

I like to call this kind of epiphany a “Ta Da” moment. Like the old game show “Let’s Make a Deal”, the curtain is pulled back with a flourish and you see that you have won a prize. Our spouses may not be perfect, but with very few exceptions, most of them have worthy qualities just waiting to be noticed and esteemed. Each is a prize in their own right.

Today, I’m going to give you several strategies to help facilitate your own "Ta Da!" moment.

The first one is to stop letting your feelings rule over you. I believe that our emotions can be an important tool in dealing with troubling people, but our emotions can also mislead and misdirect us. When we’re driven to action by our feelings we have put the cart before the horse.

Feelings follow actions, not the other way around. All too often, we plan to act a certain way once we genuinely feel that way. We say things like, “As soon as my wife starts doing the things I’ve asked her to do, I’ll begin to act loving.” or “If he could only follow directions and stop doing the things that irritate me—then I’ll start being a nicer wife!”

But the truth is our feelings will follow the actions we take. For example; if I wanted to lead a mule, I would grasp the lead rope that’s attached to the harness and pull; the mule would follow. I can’t successfully move the mule by standing next to it and saying, “Move!” I can’t move it by wishing it would move, or even praying it would move. There’s an action needed.

Consider your stubborn emotions the obstinate mule who isn’t going to be moved without a little tugging. When it comes to controlling our negative feelings we need to remember that consistently positive actions will result in consistently positive feelings.

The second way to ensure that you’ll have your own "Ta Da!" moment is to overlook your spouses faults.Now, I’m not talking about overlooking addiction, abuses, or neglect. I’m talking about overlooking those annoying little personality quirks that seemed tolerable when you and your spouse were first dating. Maybe your wife always runs late—or nags you because you always make her late. Or your husband’s a neat freak, and you have three kids in a house that will never be picked up to his standards. Does she talk with her mouth full, interrupt you at dinner parties, keep you awake with his snoring?

Whatever his or her particular foibles, they need to be overlooked if you want to live in peace with your spouse.  

It’s true that marriage can be challenging at times—but it also can be fulfilling, comforting, and joyous. If we want to enjoy our marriages, it’s important to keep our sense of humor intact and our minds focused on our mate’s good qualities. Overlooking another’s faults means to literally “look over the top” of the faults to see the person you love standing on the other side. You love your spouse. You don’t love their faults—but you do love them. Remind yourself of all their wonderful qualities and get busy being happily married.

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